The Makati City Veterinary Services Office (MVSO) on Friday warned consumers to be extra careful about the quality of meat products they are buying from markets in the city to keep their families safe from food poisoning during the holidays.
MVSO chief Dr. Vivien Manalastas, city veterinarian, issued the warning following the apprehension recently of some 25 kilos of “botcha” or double-dead meat while being delivered to a market in Barangay Rizal.
“We advise the buying public, especially the residents of Makati, to be extra vigilant in buying meat in the markets as some unscrupulous vendors may mix double dead meat with fresh ones in an attempt to fool consumers,” Manalastas said.
He said consumers should not be lured into buying contaminated meat offered at a cheaper price because these contain heat-resistant bacteria that can cause not just illness, but death to those who ingest these even if cooked well.
The city veterinarian also reported to Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay the measures initiated by her office in collaboration with the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) to strengthen its meat inspection services and ensure the strict compliance to meat safety regulations of meat vendors in all 10 markets in the city. These are the markets of Poblacion, Olympia, Tejeros, Cumavena, Bangkal, Pio del Pilar, Sacramento, Kalayaan, Guadalupe and Palanan.
Manalastas said the MVSO has issued and distributed letters or memoranda to all market owners or administrators regarding the strict observance of hygienic meat handling, reproduced and distributed informational tarpaulins to raise consumer awareness on meat safety, and deployed meat inspectors to monitor and apprehend meat shops that may be selling frozen meat. The NMIS prohibits the sale of frozen meat in the market when the stall is not equipped with freezers, chillers or refrigerators.
He reminded meat distributors to strictly observe the regulation of using closed vehicles to transport the products to avoid contamination.
Under City Ordinance 2011-018, the Makati City Meat Inspection Code, only accredited vehicles by the MVSO shall be allowed to deliver meat, aquatic products within the city.
For destinations outside the city, the vehicles must be accredited by NMIS.
First-time violators will be fined P3,000 and their meat products confiscated. The penalties for the second offense are a P4,000-fine and confiscation of products plus one month impounding of illegal transport. On the third offense, violators will be fined P5,000 while products will be confiscated and unaccredited vehicle will be impounded for six months.
Under the ordinance, all meat markets/channels engaged in selling of meat, aquatic and meat products shall be subjected to veterinary inspection and examination before distribution and sale within the city. Dealers, retailers and wholesalers of meat are prohibited from selling their products outside registered meat markets in Makati. Before securing or renewing their business license, anyone involved in the meat trade should first secure a Veterinary Inspection Certificate from the MVSO.
Violators will be penalized as follows: First Offense – P4,000 fine and confiscation of products; Second Offense – P4,500 fine, confiscation of products and three-week suspension of operations of establishment; Third Offense – P5,000 fine, confiscation of products, closure of business establishment and imprisonment of offender of not less than six months.